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The future is premium
17th October 2019

By Karen Pickwick

Pet owners spend on average £733 a year more than non-pet owners, with statistics showing that owners are becoming more and more conscious of what they are feeding their pets, wanting to ensure they have the best possible care and nutrition.

With 71% of pet food buyers believing that their pet’s diet has a direct impact on their emotional wellbeing, the trends in human and animal health and wellness continue to blend, according to Helen Warren-Piper, general manager, Mars Petcare UK.

“This has been seen in the growth of plant-based and specialist meal offerings, but more predominately in the wider humanisation of pet food products – including scientific and natural offerings,” she said.

“At £2.8bn and growing 2-3% over the last few years, the overall UK Petcare category is incredibly important for retailers.”

UNIQUE BRANDS


Helen said the pet population was changing, with smaller dogs, unique brands and older pets making up the pet population of the future. This was partly driven by increased urbanisation, she said, with over 60% of the UK population forecast to be living in cities by 2030. 

“Pet owners are also increasingly seeking to proactively manage their pets’ health and wellbeing, as well as wanting to provide the best experiences for their pets and not ‘just a meal’. With this in mind, we must also acknowledge that owners look for affordability and convenience when shopping for nutrition that is tailored to meet their pets’ needs and their budget.”

Helen predicts that, with ‘a static pet population and high calorie conversion’ in the UK, future category growth will come from premiumisation – ‘driven by pet owners willing to increase spend in the category on super premium products, natural and scientific offerings and on treating their pet’.

“As consumers’ relationships with their pets becomes more emotional, owners are increasingly interested in what they feed their pets,” she said. “Consumers are placing high value on healthy, fresh food in both their own diets and that of their pets, with over 60% saying that quality of their pets’ food is as important as their own.”

NATURAL AND SCIENTIFIC

According to Helen, there are two clear routes for owners who are looking to proactively manage their pets’ health and wellbeing – natural and scientific offerings.

“Natural pet foods tap into this trend and appeal to pet owners who believe that eating a natural diet is best for them and want to feed their pets in line with this food philosophy.

“Science-inspired brands appeal to owners who are looking to manage their pets’ health through seeking scientific nutrition to meet life stage, lifestyle and specific health requirement needs.”

Natural product propositions are projected to drive two-thirds of total UK category growth to 2020, making it the fastest growing segment in the category.

As health trends have swept through the consumer goods space, it is estimated that the value of natural Petcare brands will be worth more than £314m by 2022 (11% growth) as shoppers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for natural products.

Natural products have a number of different territories including ingredient transparency, ancestral diets (offerings that mimic pets’ instinctual diet) and limited ingredients (such as ‘grain-free’). A third of the growth of natural products will come from these ancestral propositions, Helen expects.

“The heartland for natural foods is in dry dog, with the highest growth YTD being Dog Single Serve (+39% YTD) and Dog Care & Treats (+25% YTD),” she said. “Similarly, growth will also come from brands that offer owners a diet that provides customised nutrition delivered through science which is projected to be worth £84m (6% growth) by 2022.”

To tap into this dynamic area of growth, Mars Petcare UK offers a range of natural-focused brands including Crave (a new super premium ancestral brand), Nutro, James Wellbeloved and Perfect Fit.